WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ As Black History Month draws to a close, the nation is about to get its first real look at which of the Democratic presidential candidates appeal to minority voters.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, leads the pack after Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada ─ states with relatively modest minority populations.
This Saturday’s South Carolina primary is the first with a large population of African American voters.
Dr. Niambi Carter with Howard University said Sanders is finding more and more support among minority voters.
“If you can’t get black voters to turn out then you’re not going to win,” Carter said. “We saw it in Nevada, we saw it in Iowa, and he’s been doing very well with those voters.”
As Sanders’ momentum continues to propel him into front-runner status, Carter believes the upcoming South Carolina primary will be his biggest test yet.
“South Carolina will be a big tell for Bernie Sanders because a lot of his supporters are younger, black folks,” Carter said.
Carter said South Carolina could indicate how other demographically diverse states will vote on Super Tuesday.
“When you look at places like Texas, you look at North Carolina, Virginia, we’re talking about black voting power in those places,” Carter explained.
With Sanders surging to the top as the Democratic primary nears, presidential candidate Joe Biden says he knows just how vital securing the black vote is to his campaign.
“The African American community in South Carolina can make a judgment about who the next president of the United States is going to be,” Biden said.
Democratic strategist, Paul Bell, said although polls show Biden with strong African American support, it may not be enough.
“It’s entirely possible if Sanders and others take the lead in South Carolina and amongst African American voters he’s going to have a hard time continuing,” Bell explained.
Ultimately, experts say minority voters will have a big impact on whoever becomes the Democratic nominee.